No more TV-show rentals on iTunes -- a sign of something bigger from Apple?

Citing tepid customer demand, Apple has pulled the virtual plug on TV-show rentals from the iTunes Store, according to AllThingsD, but could it actually be a harbinger of something much, much bigger from the tech giant?A statement from an Apple spokesperson claims that the rental model was embraced by neither customers nor TV studios.

Citing tepid customer demand, Apple has pulled the virtual plug on TV-show rentals from the iTunes Store, according to AllThingsD, but could it actually be a harbinger of something much, much bigger from the tech giant?

A statement from an Apple spokesperson claims that the rental model was embraced by neither customers nor TV studios. A lot of that has to do with the fact that you can watch many new episodes at your convenience on Hulu for free or through the on-demand service of your pay TV provider. And now that you can store purchased TV shows from iTunes as part of Apple's Cloud beta, users may prefer to buy an extra couple of bucks to own an episode permanently and access it through any iOS device.

But this being Apple, the tea readers are already trying to determine if the move is setting the stage for something bigger and more, well, Apple-like. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company is working a "new technology" that would beam video to TVs. Presumably this would be related to the long-anticipated iTunes TV subscription service, and may be tied to the persistent rumors of an Apple HDTV.

What's intriguing is the description of this as "new" technology, as it suggests something more disruptive that could potentially let customers bypass their cable or satellite providers. Imagine having a la carte options instead of a package of channels you have to subscribe to, whether you want to or not. Now imagine how hard every one of those pay TV providers will fight against this ever happening.

Still, you can't count such a scenario out. Remember, it was iTunes that turned the CD from the principal money-maker for the music industry into a relic for many people under 30. Could it do it again to traditional pay TV?

[Via Ars Technica]

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